July 12, 2013

Cent Cols Challenge: Dolomites 2013

Regular readers here will know that when I launched this website, I was very much an Ironman junkie. If you are a new reader, you’ll have noticed the focus on cycling and this has been the progression for me. Throw in the trail running and I would call myself a true multi sport athlete these days.

My love for the road has been something that has really blossomed over the last few years. It did come with the right group to ride with in the morning. It grew with a shared appreciation for the roads themselves and it blossomed with the adventures we began undertaking.

In the last twelve months, I have been searching for a challenge. Not just another Ironman in a different country or a multi sport adventure like O till O. No – I wanted to ride hills, in a foreign country. I am NOT a climber, so this is even more challenging because I am 74kg and not 64kg like most grimpeurs. Also, I wanted to really push the limits, physically (no f-ing surprise here, right?).

I wanted to do it in the style of our Epic Unsupported Tour, but with support ie remote, beautiful routes and a small group of people.

Also, I wanted to #switchbackdope to the max. In fact, I wanted to ride so many of them that I would never look at another one the same way.

Then there is the comparison versus the PRO guys thing. I wanted to ride the same climbs, possibly also 150km into a days’ riding.

My poor better half.

Her: “You’re doing what?”

Me: “A ride through Italy.”

Her: “Will it be hard?”

Me: “A little.”

I try and not scare her too much. She doesn’t like seeing me suffer, which is quite a vibe if you consider how much I like to suffer. I didn’t tell her the following:

– It’s the Double Century, but twice as many hills, for 10 days in a row.
– It’s the Argus, twice, but with 4 times the amount of climbing. For 10 days in a row.
– It’s the Ironman SA Bike Course, but with 9 times the amount of climbing, for 10 days in a row.

I just hope she doesn’t read this.

So what is this stupid stupid tour I found? It’s called Cent Colls Challenge – its hosted by the gents at Rapha Travel – 20 guys, full board and lodging, food, 3 x stops during the day, kiff kit and well, its really hard.

Let’s hit up the scenery first:

Mild views then. Here is a list of the stages, to further improve the contraction ability on your bum.

Stage 1: San Pellegrino Terme to Pieve di Ledro
Stats: 177km ; 3,500M. 11 Cols

Stage 2: Pieve di Ledro to Fiera di Primiero
Stats: 225km ; 4,800M. 9 Cols

Stage 3 : Fiera di Primiero to Tolmezzo
Stats: 202km ; 5,070M. 12 Cols

Stage 4 : Tolmezzo to Cortina d’Ampezzo
Stats: 225km ; 5,800M. 10 Cols

Stage 5 : Cortina to Canazei
Stats: 160km ; 4,800M. 11 Cols

Stage 6 : Canazei to Levico Terme
Stats: 205km ; 5,110M. 12 Cols

Stage 7 ; Levico Terme to Castelvecchio
Stats: 194km ; 5,200M. 15 Cols

Stage 8 : Castelvecchio to Ponte Arche
Stats: 208km ; 5,600M. 14 Cols

Stage 9 : Ponte Arche to Tirano
Stats: 194km ; 5,100M. 5 Cols

Stage 10 : Tirano to San Pellegrino Terme
Stats: 191m ; 4,500M. 5 Cols

Oh, did I forget to mention its 100 cols. 2000 kilometers. Hmmm. Lets check up how the Tour de France matches this year:


I am pretty excited by this for a few reasons. It’s a huge personal challenge – their is no winner. Then there is the prospect of riding through Italy on my bicycle – a bucket list item for me. Having ticked off Kona, O till O, Cape Epic from my list, I wanted to do something on the road. I wanted to ride back roads in a foreign country which is incredibly beautiful and if you look at this video, you may understand why I chose this intense, extreme challenge as my next:

Some of the big challenges for me are 1 hr climbs, repeatedly – we have no 2 hour climbs to practise here. I am having to do them on the mountain bike and next weekend I will be attempting 3 of them in a row, after a big run on the Saturday.

The following weekend, the goal is an all-day ride. 8 hours of it. This is the norm for CCC.

Thereafter I am going to try and ride 6000m vertical in one ride.

So it’s a series of challenges towards the big goal.

Lastly, it’s turned out to be a chance to reunite with one Kristian Manietta – that aussie who came out to SA to ride EUT 2011 with us. We experience life in the same ways and believe many of the same things so it will be a chance to have a companion who I immensely enjoy for evening banter and have a room mate who I know I won’t have to make small talk with, and who speaks decent English.

Soon I’ll share with you which bike I am taking, what gearing, wheels, kit, nutrition, etc as the journey to get these 100% has been pretty cool too. Such a specific event requires pretty specific gear and approach.

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